touch, the leading mobile telecommunications and data operator in Lebanon, managed by Zain Group, organized “Robotics for Good,” a youth innovation program organized in partnership with Riyada for Social Innovation SAL. This program is part of the “Summer of Innovation” 2018 initiative launched by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
Riyada for Social Innovation SAL is a social enterprise that offers education programs, corporate training, and consulting services to foster social entrepreneurship in the community.
The intensive two-week summer learning program was held at touch Lab between August 7 – 20, 2018 and concluded with a ceremony held at Grand Serail on Tuesday, 28th August, in the presence of Deputy Rola Al Tabsh, where students presented their projects and received awards and certifications for their work.
Around 30 young men and women from various schools, socio-economic backgrounds, and regions of Lebanon participated in the program that included workshops in technology, entrepreneurship, electronics, and coding. Participants aged 15 to 18 years old were in grades 10, 11, 12, or their freshman year at university.
Through its Digital Innovation Strategy and desire to give back to the community, the youth innovation program addressed three main pillars of touch’s corporate sustainability goals: technology, entrepreneurship, and spreading social good.
Commenting on the summer initiative, Emre Gurkan Chief Executive Officer of touch said, “We are aware that technology and innovation can completely and positively transform the way young people today learn. The youth innovation summer program is our way of highlighting to young people how technology is a fundamental tool for their future, and providing them unique and fun ways to learn. In addition to supporting the youth in Lebanon, this initiative is part of touch’s objective to expand into the digital ecosystem as part of our journey to become the Digital Network Accelerator (DNA).”
Riyada’s founder Mona Itani said, “Working closely with the youth has given us a spectrum of hope in that the upcoming generation is motivated and has the ability to make a positive difference in our society. All they need to acquire are the right skills, and this is what we are ultimately trying to accomplish through the Youth Innovation Program.”
Over the course of two weeks, students were exposed to technology entrepreneurship as they worked in groups on a robotics/electronics project using the popular Arduino platform aimed at solving problems related to healthcare in Lebanon. This activity challenged students to assemble hardware components and taught them to code while coming up with solutions to solve social problems in their community.
Students in the program were taught to apply design thinking to everyday problems through this immersive learning experience. The program also helped ignite participants’ entrepreneurial spirit, highlighting the importance of pitching their innovative solutions.